Healthy Whole Food Steps: Top Ten {Tuesday}

A few years ago…like 6, I read Eating Well For Optimum Health by Dr. Andrew Weil. It was like a Science textbook. I don’t even know what inspired me to pick it up or finish it for that matter. But I was mesmerized by it. I read every word and the first thing I did when it was done was go through my kitchen and pile up everything that Dr. Weil considered unhealthy. This was the first time I got interested in healthy eating.

A few years later when I still liked Oprah, I started getting into Dr. Oz and his whole health-food philosophy. I loved his simple list of 5 ingredients that should not be in food and other little healthy habits he encourages.

With a few blogs and other books thrown in, I’ve been on a slow journey to eating better food…whole food…real food…clean food…slow food. This will probably be my only educational food post ever, so pay attention. Here’s the 

Top Ten Steps I’ve Taken To Better Eating:

1. Whole Grains

Wheat

For almost the last year I’ve been buying bread from a local bakery. Not just any old bakery, though. This bakery is called REAL BREAD. And why? Because they freshly mill their grain minutes or hours before they bake their bread. They teach that wheat loses it’s nutritional value within hours. So, freshly milled wheat is actually the ONLY “whole grain” that’s even good for you. The whole wheat flour you buy in the grocery store? Dead. As dead as that unrefrigerated grape juice on aisle 3.

Read more at Bread Beckers. It will rock your bread world.

2. Full Fat Dairy

210.365 - Got Milk?

Americans are crazy in love with low fat. I know, some of us spout that we still like the “good fats” in eggs and avocados. But we still limit them because we want to be skinny. But let’s think about milk for a minute–does it seem like a good idea to take a complete food like cow’s milk (it is a complete food–it’s designed to keep baby cows alive!) and strip it down? Oh, but they’re just taking out the fat, you say. Is that so? Maybe the fat is what makes milk do it’s job. Don’t fats, proteins, minerals and vitamins work in a beautiful symbiosis? Low fat dairy is a scam. Full fat milk is WHOLE milk–as in a whole, real food. Drink it and then rejoice when you watch your full fat cheese actually melt on your cheese toast!

Read more about Full Fat Dairy at Kitchen Stewardship.

4. Raw Milk

got milk

Speaking of milk, after you pick up your WHOLE milk, you might want to check out the rest of that label. Does it say pasteurized? Ultra-pasteurized? UHT? Do you know what any of that means? Basically, in order to ship milk to far away places, milk has to be heated. To kill anything that might spoil on the way over. Of course, this kills other stuff, too. LIKE EVERYTHING HEALTHY. Ultra-pasteurized (UHT) has been heated on such high temperatures that it doesn’t even need to be refrigerated. Case in point: Horizon Organic Chocolate Milk. It says it right there on the website & the front of the package. And if you read the labels of your big gallon jugs at the grocery store? They’re all Ultra-pasteurized, too.

I found only one organic, simply pasteurized milk at my local grocery store. So, I googled “raw milk” in my area. That means milk straight from a cow (*gasp*). I found a local farmer that delivers to my aforementioned bakery weekly. The only problem is he labels his milk “for pet consumption only” because selling milk straight from cows to people is illegal. Are you kidding me?!

Read Top Ten Reasons to Drink Raw Milk at Cheeseslave {how could I NOT link to that Top Ten post?!}

5. Pastured Eggs

cage free eggs

When Les and I got married we were still in college–at a little school in North Georgia. We lived in a trailer out in a field right next to a chicken farm. And about once or twice a week I’d have to drive behind a big chicken truck. I’d see thousands of chickens stuffed into cages probably a foot high. Feathers were flying, their heads were drooping and I could NOT look at them. I remember in the summer, I didn’t have air conditioning in the car and I’d choose to roll up the windows so I couldn’t hear the chickens or see their feathers flying by me. It was inhumane–inchickenane—whatever, it was gross.

And now that I know a little more about cage-free, pastured, free-range chickens, I realize what the problem was. Those caged chickens? NOT HEALTHY. So, how in the world are they going to give me healthy eggs? They aren’t!

I have found several places that sell local, pastured eggs (and lots of individuals who just have a couple of hens in their backyards). Those multi-colored eggs above? Straight from chickens in my county!

6. Pastured & Grass Fed Animals

grass-fed-beef-new-york-hillside_425

This is the same as above. Healthy animals=healthy food. If cows are eating “cow feed” instead of actual food intended for cows (ie. grass) and pigs are eating “piggie chow” and chickens are eating “chicken chow” instead of actual pig and chicken food, then they are not going to be healthy. And it won’t be healthy for us to eat. It’s as simple as that.

Becky and I cow-pooled this year so we could stock our freezer with grass-fed meat from a pastured cow. I’ve found several local farms that let their pigs and chickens run wild to forage and eat naturally. These are the animals I’m buying now.

Read more at US Wellness Meats.

7. Local Fruits & Vegetables

vegetable garden, detail

According to Steven Hopp, if Americans ate just one locally grown meal a week it would cut down on 1.1 million barrels of oil each week! Yeah, oil. You know that stuff that everyone in the free world is always fighting over? Drill now? Drill here? Drill there? Who cares?! EAT LOCAL.

Not only does local food cut down on fuel usage, it also supports your neighbors! Buying food at a local’s farmer’s market is keeping your money in your community. Finding a local CSA to provide you with veggies is helping a neighborhood farm make it!

And it keeps your fruits and veggies healthy, too. Think about how fresh an apple from Bolivia is. Not so much. But what about an apple picked an hour up the road? Probably bursting with just a few more vitamins, dontcha’ think?

For more information on eating local read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Lifeby Barbara Kingsolver

8. Honey

sweet, sweet honey

God and bees make honey. Raw honey is a complete natural sweetener. It never goes bad. It has pollen from your area–which means it can actually help with your allergies by setting up immunities in your body.

My sister-in-law told me her grandmother always said the reason she lived so long is because she ate a tablespoon of honey everyday. Even if it’s not true, what a yummy way to go!

Read more about Cinnamon and Raw Honey and Dark Chocolate at Kitchen Stewardship.

9. Organic

"Organic-Sustainable Farmed Products" by Vicky Tesmer (Cool Globes)

This is one of those over-used terms that no longer means as much as it used to. Organic does not equal healthy. Organic means that it is raised without certain pesticides and is not genetically modified. Oh, there’s so much to say here. And so much I don’t understand yet. Genetically modified fruits and veggies is new to me. Genetic food engineers have found a way to take genes from ANIMALS and MINERALS and put them into plants so they can have thicker skin, respond better to certain pesticides and make them unable to reproduce. It might be great for shipment and money–but can it really be good for us?

Read more about Natural and Organic at Gknkowflgins and Learn the Lingo at Eat Local Philly.

10. Self-Control

1st Course: Mesquite-grilled foie gras

This is the one thing I haven’t figured out yet. I don’t usually buy anything junky to keep in the house. But if it’s in here (like when my husband goes to the grocery store late at night and comes back with Ben and Jerry’s Peanut Butter Cup ice cream?) I simply can’t turn it down. And when I’m given the choice to stop at a restaurant or go home and cook a full meal? Well, I can hardly pass up a chance to have someone cook for me!

How do I get wrap my mind around all this food-knowledge when I have junk food at my fingertips?!

10. Knowledge

I’m big on getting information. If you were here in January you know I didn’t make New Years Resolutions. I just made choices to get more informed on certain subjects. And this is the result of that knowledge quest. Along with all the blogs, books and sites I linked to earlier, here are some other great resources for learning about real food:

Local Harvest {My fave! I have found so many great farmers here!}

Whole Food Resources from Musings of a Housewife {lots of links to blogs, books and more!}

Eat Wild {more lists of local farms!}

Slow Food {a grassroots movement to take the world back from fast food!}

And a really good resource that I want to do is Kelly the Kitchen Kop’s Real Food for Rookies! It’s a 12-week online class that starts September 13. It’s $10 a class and is full of basic, easy, rookie steps for you to take (and now understand!) to get your family’s food going in a healthy direction! {And if you scroll all the way to the bottom of Real Food for Rookies page, you’ll see a quote from moi!}

What’s your food manifesto?

Disclaimer: I hope you can tell from this post that I do not claim to be an expert. I purposely did not give many statistics or facts because I am not a researcher or a nutritionist. I am a concerned human. Do not take anything I wrote as the gospel truth. Read through the links (also, cannot vouch for their reliability) and make your own informed decision.

:: :: ::

If you’re going to play along this week all you have to do is WRITE a Top Ten list on your blog, LINK to me in it, PASTE your post’s url into the linky below and then VISIT or tweet or stumble or generally love the rest of the Top Ten {Tuesday} participants! (<—click there for ‘rules’ and a cute button!)

Comments

  1. That is a great post Amanda! I think the “milk example” also proves your “organic isn’t always healthy” example. When I first started reading about milk & learned the difference in Past vs. Ultra vs. etc. … I was shocked to see that every “organic” brand of milk I was purchasing was UP. Ugh. That’s one that I still can’t find on a regular basis!

    • Exactly, Mandi! The only organic milk I could find that was NOT ultra-pasteurized (it’s still pasteurized, but just “regular” pasteurized) was Publix’ Greenwise brand–but only in the gallon version. So, how weird is that?

      a

  2. Good for you!
    I’m not nearly as diligent as you…but I do get my eggs and honey from a friends “farm”. We can really taste the difference and I feel so much better knowing that we are eating so healthy!

  3. Grass fed beef is by far superior for not only health purposes, but for taste. And we’ve been doing the local honey thing, especially with our son, to help him gain some immunity from allergy seasons. His first bout with them this spring was rough.

    • Good idea, PJ! I have always picked up local honey just b/c of the novelty of it. I’ve just recently started to be diligent to find it for those allergy purposes. I’ll be interested to see if you can tell a difference in your son from last year to this.

      a

  4. Oh if only eating whole healthy foods could be easier here on Guam! Things are WAY expensive as it is off base. And there isn’t a lot of year round local foods to be had! Everything is shipped, and believe me, in produce you can definitely tell!! I can never just plan on making a certain meal with certain ingredients, even if I know its in season, it is either super pricey even on base, or its in terrible condition! Lately onions have been the worst- they are still cold from being frozen and beaten up and some are moldy. Same with all the berries, all through the summer when they should be at there peak, if they weren’t moldy on the shelf, they were within days of bringing them home! Oh I wish I could feed my family better foods! I plan on it when we get back stateside most definitely…2 more years to go!

    • Oh my goodness! Frozen onions? I can’t even imagine how different and hard it is—maybe as you look you’ll find some nice hidden farmer waiting to sell food to you! ;)

      Two years to stateside! Yay!
      a

  5. Amanda, what a fabulous, comprehensive post. You did an awesome job putting all this together. I’ll definitely be linking over!!

  6. We have very similar food philosophies . . . and I too struggle with #10! In fact, today’s post is about my friend Kelly’s Real Food for Rookies class.

  7. I read Dr. Anrew Weil’s book a long time ago. I’ve been woefully negligent in following the principles though.

    I hardly ever think about what they do to process milk, either. I’m going back to whole milk! I’d love to get my hands on some raw milk, if I can find it. I bet the raw milk tastes a lot better, too.

  8. Yeah, um. You’d never know it from my junk food picnic post today but I actually know and practice most of this. Several years ago I decided to work my way up the food pyramid (which I know is faulty, but it was somewhere to start) and started baking my own bread, and took it from there. We do full fat dairy, which prompts a lecture from our pediatrician every time I forget not to lie a little about it. I’m scared of raw milk, frankly. But honey – I’ve been in love with for a long time and my kids get a tablespoon every day. I’m old school like that :)

  9. Great post and it’s encouraging to know there’s small steps to start with. I love how in summer it’s so easy to get local, fresh foods.

  10. There’s so much to know, and so many different opinions, and everybody thinks they’re right. I’m also just trying to gather as much information on the subject as possible and from there make decisions about what’s right for me and my family. I’m still trying to work through The Omnivore’s Dilemma, but thank you for pointing me toward other resources for more information. (Someday I’ll have more time for reading!)

    • That’s all you can do—especially when you rely on the internet as much as I do. It’s easy to take what so-and-so blogger says as truth. I read 1/2 of In Defense of Food…but the only reason I stopped is b/c by the halfway point I already agreed with him! LOL!

      a

  11. This is such a great post! I still have many steps to take… I haven’t made the leap to raw milk yet, but I’m starting to feel kind of lucky that I live in CT the more I research it. Here, it IS legal to sell… on the farm or even in a store. People drive here from neighboring states all the time. :)

  12. Love your top ten this week! We’ve already started doing some of those things — grassfed beef, eggs from cage-I’ve always been a fan of real cheese, even when trying to lose weight. My thought is they replace that fat with something and that chemical something is probably way worse for you than the fat.

    I’m working on incorporating some of the other tips in our lives, too. I’m having the hardest time with the whole grains, right now, but we’re working on it.

    Anyway, great post!

    • I’m telling you after reading the info at Bread Beckers, I felt like whole grains was the key to lifelong health! It sounds crazy but I can see how God designed food to heal and sustain us.

      And you are so right about them putting other junk in after they strip it down. *shudder*

  13. I am taking many of these steps too…in our area we can get local, raw, organic milk, awesome! http://www.yourfamilycow.com/ and I blogged about our fieldtrip here http://skipperclan.blogspot.com/2009/09/shankstead-ecofarm.html

  14. Your post makes me want to go home and whip up some unprocessed healthy food for dinner! Though I have to admit, the Zataran’s Jambalaya and smoked sausage last night was easy, cheap, and oh so tasty …. maybe there is a way to meet in the middle for me, since I did make my own veggie-based soup for lunch?? :P

    • Mhhhmmmm. jambalaya! The thing I’ve noticed is that the more I cook whole foods, I realize it’s not MUCH harder than convenience food. You can even cook a good whole food meal and freeze it for later!

      a

  15. I love reading post reminders that NOT having a $25/week “food” budget is good for my family! We’ve always had access to locally raised beef (yay for family farmers!) and a year ago started getting our eggs and raw milk from a farm 20 miles away. It’s a hassle sometimes… but so worth it!

    • We have definitely erred by sticking to “budgets” over health! And “convenience” over health! Don’t you think in the long run it’s cheaper {or at least equal} b/c you’re not eating all sorts of extra junk?

      a

  16. Love this list, and love the whole milk and farm eggs, I raise chickens and truly free range healthy chicken eggs are so much more healthful. Lower in all the bad stuff and higher in all the good stuff.

    Great post.

  17. Best. healthy. eating. post. EVER.

    Seriously, there is sooooooooooo much information out there, and you did such a great job providing valuable snippits and links to more details posts. Bookmarking this now for myself and sharing it everywhere I can. LOVE IT!

  18. I really love this post. Eating more naturally has been in the back of my mind lately, but honestly it overwhelms me for lack of knowing where to start.

    The milk thing intrigues me. Lately, I’ve stopped buying skim milk, even though I like it best. It just seemed . . . wrong. Love hearing your thoughts on that.

    And thanks for hosting!

  19. Love your top ten! Healthy and helpful!
    suchakingdom.blogspot.com

  20. I love this post! I am so on board with all of this… I’ve been interested in raw milk for a long time but I’m “scared” to try it. I’ll read your links and look into it — I know there are farms around Denver that sell shares in a raw milk cow! PS this is my favorite line of the week:

    “Drill now? Drill here? Drill there? Who cares?! EAT LOCAL.”

    AMEN! So many things that we wrangle about would be irrelevant if we could take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

  21. I don’t even care that there are two #10s and no #3 I LOVE THIS PoST! Wanna get on top of my roof and read it to the world! Thank you for doing the next best (hard) thing :)

  22. Love this post! A few years ago I started giving my girls local honey “pixie sticks”. Their allergies are now almost nonexistant. Guess God knows what He’s doing….

  23. I didn’t get a Top Ten up today, but I just want to say this is an awesome post. I am about 6/10 of the way through your list, and you have me inspired for raw milk and freshly-milled bread. The new design looks great, by the way! :)

  24. Thanks for breaking this all down for us, Amanda. Definitely food for thought. Stumbling now…

  25. I love this! We are moving more and more toward local and “real” foods, and it feels really good! I love your rational thought toward it, too!

  26. Great top 10 list! I so love your balanced realistic view. Great job!

  27. We make a lot of the same food choices. You prompted me to write my own post about how we eat. You did a great job with the pictures and links. Lisa~

  28. Hi Amanda!

    This is truly such a great GREAT list!

    I wanted to add on the raw milk issue – the legality of raw milk varies from state to state. For anyone interested in discovering the laws for real, raw milk in their state, here is a breakdown: http://www.realmilk.com/happening.html

    In Oklahoma, I can buy raw milk if I go to the farm and purchase it myself. Here are some sources for those who are fortunate enough to live in a state where buying raw milk is legal: http://www.realmilk.com/where4.html

    Again, this is just an AMAZING post with so much information. Thank you, ma’am!

  29. Thanks for these excellent thoughts, Amanda.

    I blogged my family’s “food manifesto” this past June: http://metropolitanmama.net/2010/06/this-is-the-way-we-eat-our-food/.

    It’s somewhat similar to yours, except we don’t drink raw milk (yet, anyway).

  30. Emily Guerard says:

    Amanda,
    My family and I have the same problem with raw milk being illegal to sell in our state. The way we have gotten around it is “buying a share of the cow.” I have a contract with the farmer that says I own part of the cow that I am getting milk from. We just pay an initial $5 to buy the share of the cow, and that makes it all legal! I get milk from “my cow.” Problem solved.

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